How to set up an affiliate program for your WooCommerce store

Why run an affiliate program in the first place?

You’ve been thinking for a while to step up your game and run an affiliate program for your WooCommerce online store.

But you just don’t know where to begin or even if it’s worth the trouble. It can feel complicated and overwhelming, especially if you’re a new business looking for ways to grow.

Well, we do think it’s worth giving it a try. Affiliate marketing is generating revenue for most types of businesses, whether they sell digital or physical goods and services. Why not yours?!

Running an affiliate program is a straightforward and effective way to scale your business exponentially through the help of referrals, so there’s no surprise the trend for this industry is forecast to be on the rise even more in the upcoming years. 

Today, it’s easier than ever to drive more sales to your business by having an affiliate marketing strategy. It’s also fairly easy to get started.

If you’re already on board with the idea, you can skip down below where we detail how you can create an affiliate program for your WooCommerce shop with the help of SliceWP, a powerful WordPress plugin. No coding skills required!

But if you’re not convinced yet, here are a couple more benefits that might sway you in favor of setting up an affiliate program of your own:

  • It’s a very affordable solution to increase traffic and sales. Ads and content marketing cost money, but don’t always ensure a return. On the other hand, in the case of referral marketing, you share a slice of the profit pie with the affiliate only when a sale has been made. Win-win!
  • Affiliates do the marketing for you. You might be reluctant to share your profits, but affiliate marketing done right is a great way to spread the word about your business. A happy customer could turn into a great affiliate.

Think of it like this: you pay for promotion, but only if it works! No money upfront and you have a small marketing team without actually hiring anybody.

Do we have you on board yet?

Why use SliceWP?

Before setting up and customizing your WordPress affiliate program, let’s see what are the main advantages of choosing SliceWP, our very own referral plugin:

  • It integrates seamlessly with WooCommerce. Set it and forget it!
  • Tracks visits and commissions automatically.
  • Easy to use interface for administrators.
  • Dashboard with statistics and revenue info for your affiliates.
  • Basic features are completely free, so you have zero-risk starting out. Click here to download the core plugin.

Now, let’s get you up and running! 

Once installed, SliceWP starts with a quick setup wizard that you can tweak in about a minute and you’re good to go.

However, we’ve prepared a detailed walkthrough for when you want to further customize it (for example, send custom emails with your logo and branding colors to your affiliates).

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Setting up the basics of your affiliate program

The way you run your affiliate program is mostly up to you. The same way you’ve set up WooCommerce and defined the way you want to do business goes for your affiliate program.

SliceWP offers a lot of features, but the following few are quite important to have you running as quickly as possible:

  • Allow affiliate registration (we will cover this one at length later in the article)
  • Cookie duration
  • Payments minimum amount
  • Commission rates
  • Affiliate URLs

Understanding the affiliate cookie duration

Tracking referrals from your affiliates is done via cookies. A cookie is just a simple piece of information the web browser stores for a certain amount of time.

SliceWP administrator general settings panel

For your affiliate program SliceWP will tell the browser to save the affiliate that referred your website and remember it for the amount of days you specify in the cookie duration field.

As an example, let’s say you set the cookie duration to 60. With this, once a visitor reaches your website via one of your affiliate’s promotional links, the affiliate’s ID will be stored for 60 days. Now, if this visitor completes a purchase in the 60 days window, the affiliate will be rewarded a commission.

Setting the payments minimum amount

This setting is essential in defining the way you wish to pay your affiliates. There are a couple of ways you can do this:

  • pay each affiliate commission individually
  • pay all affiliates for a given period, weekly or monthly for example

We recommend the second one, because it allows you to process payments in bulk, saving you time and energy.

Furthermore, you may not want to process small payments, thus you could make use of the payments minimum amount option. With it, only affiliates that generate commissions over the set amount, within the weekly or monthly cycle, will be paid.

Other affiliates, that haven’t crossed this minimum, will be paid after the next cycle, if they manage to generate enough commissions.

This approach further reduces your workload and can drive affiliates to improve their promotional efforts for your products.

Setting up your affiliate program’s commission rate

The commission rate is another parameter that defines your affiliate program. Simply put, it specifies how much your affiliates are rewarded for each referred complete order.

Commissions can be generated on a percentage or a fixed amount basis. This is all up to you, but we recommend you to estimate how much of the profits you are willing to share with your affiliate partners.

Offering 30% – 40% commissions may lead to a great program for your affiliates and it could increase earnings significantly, but it may also eat up too much of your profits to sustain it.

Affiliate commissions settings panel in SliceWP admin area

By operating a big enough affiliate program, you may find that not all affiliates are equal. Some of them might be able to drive much more traffic and many more sales to your website, but at the same time also ask for higher commissions.

To honor this kind of requests you may want to enable the Affiliate Commission Rates add-on, which allows you to set custom rates for each individual affiliate.

Defining the affiliate promotional links

To promote your products affiliates use unique URLs that link back to your website. For example, by default, for affiliate #20, the link looks like this:

As you can notice, the “aff” variable is added to the link and its value is set to the affiliate’s unique ID. To suit your preferences, you can change this variable’s name, for example to “affiliate”, “ref”, “referral” or any other word.

With this, your affiliate promotional links could be:

Affiliate keyword settings option from SliceWP administrator area

Enabling the WooCommerce integration

SliceWP by default integrates seamlessly with both WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads. Also, our plan is to support many more plugins going forward. Thus, now that you have defined your affiliate program’s basic settings, you can fire up the WooCommerce integration and get started.

Affiliate program WooCommerce integration enable switch in SliceWP administrator area

Enabling WooCommerce is literally a flick of a switch. And you can do it from SliceWP’s settings page, under the Integrations tab.

Setting up an affiliate registration process

Starting off, your affiliate program is private and only website administrators are able to add, update or delete affiliate accounts.

However, if you want to make your program publicly available, so that your website visitors can apply for an affiliate account with you directly, enable the Allow Affiliate Registration option.

Allow affiliate registration option from SliceWP general settings

1. Adding an affiliate registration page

Now that you have the a public program, you also need a registration page for potential affiliates to join in.

To help streamline the process, SliceWP comes with a few simple shortcodes, that you can place in any regular page, or in a template file. Included is [slicewp_affiliate_registration], which renders a registration form with a few fields needed to create the user and affiliate accounts in your WordPress website.

As an example, here’s how a basic registration page looks like in the editor and also how it renders for your visitors. The design may of course vary based on the theme you’re using. This particular one is a WordPress default.

Example of an affiliate registration page in WordPress' Gutenberg editor
Example of affiliate registration form shown to visitors

2. Setting up email notifications

By default, SliceWP will create pending affiliate accounts.

You can set it to register all affiliates as active, but we recommend against it, at least at first. By reviewing each application you ensure that potential affiliates are appropriate for your program.

For each step of this process you can enable email notifications the applicant receives. You can set a “thank you” one for when they register, an “account approved” one or an “account rejected” one.

This way you can ensure that your potential affiliate is in the loop with what’s happening and, even in the event of a rejection, that their overall experience with you was a good one.

Affiliate program email notifications options in SliceWP settings

If you want to customize your email notifications to match your brand as closely as possible please follow this detailed tutorial.

3. Approving affiliates

Reviewing affiliate applications is quite easy. For each new pending account you have a dedicated page where you can inspect the information provided by the user. Based on this data you can approve or reject their registration.

Review affiliate administrator page in SliceWP

Setting up the account for your affiliates

Undoubtedly, the lifeblood of an affiliate program are the affiliates. We wanted to make your partners’ experience with your program as great as possible.

So, with SliceWP, you can create a special page for them to monitor how their affiliate marketing efforts are going. The account is generated by a simple shortcode, which can be placed in any page.

Example of an affiliate account page in WordPress' Gutenberg editor

Within their account, affiliates can also find their unique promotional link. If they wish to promote a particular product, they can also generate custom links, that will redirect their visitors to the product, instead of your homepage.

Example of affiliate account page shown to affiliate partners

See how you can manage your affiliate program

The administration side is quite extensive, but at the same time we tried our best to make it as friendly as possible.

With it you can monitor all aspects of your affiliate program. From affiliates, to visits, to generated commissions, everything is editable and filtrable.

Affiliate commissions administrator page in SliceWP

What’s more, with the Reports add-on you can monitor various key metrics. The data is also filtrable, to ensure you have a clear understanding of how your affiliate program is performing.

Reports administrator page in SliceWP

See how you can pay your affiliates

To help you streamline the payments process to your affiliates, SliceWP comes with a payouts mechanism that prepares everything for you.

In short, for each new payout, the plugin will look for all unpaid commissions from a given period and will combine them into ready to send payments.

For example, let’s say you want to pay affiliates for the month of January. As you can notice below, the only mandatory fields are the start and end dates. Optionally, you can modify the payments minimum amount, the one discussed earlier in the article.

Create a new payout administrator page in SliceWP

With the above values, SliceWP will look for all unpaid commissions between, and including, the two dates. It will then add the commissions for each affiliate, and if the sum is greater than the minimum amount, it will consider the commissions ready to be paid.

SliceWP then generates a preview of the payout, which you can review before effectively creating it and adding it to the database.

SliceWP preview payout page with generated affiliate payments

With the payout created you can now follow its progress. If you use Paypal, you can pay affiliates directly from SliceWP, using the PayPal Payouts add-on.

Alternatively you can use any other mass pay system. For each payout you have the option of downloading a CSV file containing the amount, the currency and the payment email address of the affiliate.

We’ve formatted this CSV file specially for use with mass pay systems. With it, it should be pretty easy to transfer money to your affiliates with the service of your choice.

Single payout administrator page in SliceWP, showing all payout data and generated affiliate payments

Optionally, if you prefer a more manual solution, you can pay your affiliates via wire transfer. With this approach you have to then mark your payments as complete in SliceWP.

Let’s wrap this up

This has been quite a long article, we acknowledge this. But if you reached this far down, you now know all there is to it. You have all the information you need to set up an affiliate program for your WooCommerce store.

And most importantly, you now know why affiliate marketing is a tool that can help your business grow.

Start making more money

Grow your business with SliceWP, risk free, with personal onboarding and a 30-day money back guarantee.

Install SliceWP now